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LEBRECHT LISTENS | Vadim Gluzman’s Beethoven And Schnittke Is A Highlight Of The Year (So Far)

Violinist Vadim Gluzman (Photo: Marco Borggreve)Beethoven/Schnittke: Violin concertos (BIS)★★★★★🎧 Spotify | Apple Music | AmazonIn the early 1980s, the phenomenal Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer recorded for Philips an account of the Beethoven concerto that was almost universally reviled. It contained two cadenzas written at the soloist’s request by the Russian composer Alfred Schnittke, a self-styled polystylist who built some of his works from fragments of many others.Each of the cadenzas contained snippets of every major violin concerto from Bach to Berg, and the Western music establishment recoiled as it if had been struck by a falling Sputnik. The record was harshly reviewed and withdrawn by the label, never to be physically reissued (though it can be heard online).Speaking for myself, I loved every damned note of it at the time, from the squelch of a Mendelssohn phrase to the cackling, wicked grabs from Wozzeck and Lulu. I loved it then and love it still. Vadim Gluzman’s performance on BIS lacks, perhaps, the icy insouciance of Kremer in his prime, but it’s a gripping reading of the Beethoven concerto nonetheless, with aptly restrained support from the Lucerne orchestra and conductor James Gaffigan, letting those bitsy cadenzas shine as they should.The companion piece is Schnittke’s own third concerto, his best, written in 1978 for Oleg Kagan and officially disfavoured in the old Soviet Union. Schnittke plays mind games by putting the slow movement last and giving the violin lots of quarter-tones to play, but the effect is hypnotic and the dialogue between soloist and orchestra has unusual likeness to a normal conversation, drifting in and out without reaching a predetermined conclusion. Gluzman is a fabulous interpreter, never over-intruding, content to engage with the excellent orchestra in a winding, fascinating discussion about this and that, here and there. One of my records of the year, without doubt.To read more from Norman Lebrecht, subscribe to Slippedisc.com.#LUDWIGVANGet the daily arts news straight to your inbox.Sign up for the Ludwig van Daily — classical music and opera in five minutes or less HERE. Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.Latest posts by Norman Lebrecht (see all) Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.Latest posts by Norman Lebrecht (see all)

THE SCOOP | Toronto Symphony Orchestra To Fully Reopen This November

Gustavo Gimeno conducts the TSO in a performance of ‘Firebird’ (Photo: Stuart Lowe)The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has announced they will return to the stage on November 10, 2021.The 2021-22 season will also mark Music Director Gustavo Gimeno’s first complete season on the podium, conducting 11 subscription programs.The season will open at Roy Thomson Hall with a performance of Invictus, a brass-heavy piece inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests by American composer Anthony Barfield. The season ends on June 2022 with a Ludwig Van approved concert of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”.It’s been a while: October 17, 2020, was the last time patrons were able to hear the TSO perform live at their Toronto’s CityView Drive-In before the province shut down the option of outdoor drive-ins.TSO Season HighlightsRepertoire:Mendelssohn’s “Reformation” Symphony (Jan)Beethoven’s Symphonies Nos. 2 (Jan) and 4 (Feb)Sibelius’s Symphonies Nos. 7 and 5 (Mar)Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 (Apr)Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 “From the New World” (Apr)Stravinsky’s The Firebird (May)Brahms’s Symphony No. 4 (Jun)Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 (Jun)Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (Jun)Guest Soloists:Timothy Chooi: Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto (Nov)Kerson Leong: Samy Moussa’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra “Adrano” (Jan)Angela Hewitt: Bach’s Keyboard Concerto No. 2 (Feb)James Ehnes: Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (Apr)Jan Lisiecki: Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (Apr)Patricia Kopatchinskaja: Ravel’s Tzigane for Violin and Orchestra and Francisco Coll’s Violin Concerto (Apr)Karen Gomyo: Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 (Apr)Daniil Trifonov: Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 “Emperor” (May)Tony Siqi Yun: Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto (Jun)Javier Perianes: Grieg’s Piano Concerto (Jun)Gustavo Gimeno conducts the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (Photo: Jag Gundu)Guest Conductors:Peter Oundjian (Conductor Emeritus)Sir Andrew Davis (TSO’s Conductor Laureate)Ryan BancroftMaxim EmelyanychevEun Sun KimSamy MoussaJukka-Pekka SarasteXian ZhangPremières:Emilie LeBel (TSO RBC Affiliate Composer): Kiwis Can’t Play the Violin and the sediments.Zosha Di Castri: New work for soprano and orchestra (featuring Canadian soprano Barbara Hannigan)Samy Moussa: Symphony No. 2 (2021/22 Spotlight Artist)Francisco Coll: ElysianNextGen Composers and the “Celebration Preludes”. (Cris Derksen, Luis Ramirez, Julia Mermelstein, Afarin Mansouri, and Iman Habibi)What they’re saying:Gustavo Gimeno | Artistic Director: “Our art form soars when we present more racialized, Indigenous, women artists and new works on our stages, alongside Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Dvořák Together, these works illuminate a repertoire that embraces a celebration of musical perspectives, histories, influences, and styles.”Matthew Loden | CEO: “Gustavo has programmed a season with his uncompromising style, full of rich, challenging, and emotional music, featuring exceptional artists. Gustavo and the TSO musicians have charted a musical way forward from this historic period.”Jonathan Crow | Concertmaster: “I speak for all TSO musicians when I say that the return to in-person performances is at the very core of our purpose. We have all missed the electric energy between the musicians and Gustavo Gimeno, our Music Director, and most of all, the enduring relationship with our patrons. This will be a season like no other and one to cherish.”The Fine PrintTSO will stay on the safe side with hour-long concerts without intermission for the first four months.To maintain physical distancing, concerts will feature smaller ensembles on stage. Symphonic works with full orchestra will have to wait for the late-Winter/early Spring.2021/22 season subscriptions are available now to renewing subscribers.TSO will offer subscription packages to new or returning patrons at a later date, as capacity allows.Single tickets will be released at a later date as availability allows.Going deeperOntario’s “Roadmap to Reopening” lockdown restrictions are now being gradually lifted over three stages.The first allows outdoor events for up to ten people, but no concerts. The second allows for outdoor concert events for up to 25 people.The third allows for both outdoor and indoor concert events. Ontario will move into the third step once the population of Ontario reaches 70-80% single-dose vaccination rate. Ontario is currently at 61%.#LUDWIGVANGet the daily arts news straight to your inbox.Sign up for the Ludwig van Daily — classical music and opera in five minutes or less HERE. Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig Van and CEO of Museland Media. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. A specialist in digital media for over 15 years, he has worked as a senior editor and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.Latest posts by Michael Vincent (see all) Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig Van and CEO of Museland Media. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. A specialist in digital media for over 15 years, he has worked as a senior editor and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.Latest posts by Michael Vincent (see all)

THE SCOOP | Open Letters Charge U Of T Faculty Of Music With Allegations Of Racism, Sexual Assault

In two open letters, students, staff and alumni of the University of Toronto Faculty of Music have accused the institution of routinely ignoring investigations of sexual assault, racism, and more. The status quo, they say, is a culture of abuse and intimidation.The first open letter contains serious allegations of both sexual abuse and assault, and essentially an institution that ignored it, affecting the Faculty as a whole. The list of names on the letter is both long and convincing, with hundreds of signatories, and comes from all levels of the Faculty of Music from students to prominent faculty members, including Associate Deans, and members of the Registrar’s Office.They paint a disturbing portrait of a learning institution where faculty members could sexually harass students with little to no repercussions to their careers, even in cases of repeated allegations.Among the details:More than 40 separate stories were submitted detailing sexual harassment and abuseAt least three statements come from students who turned down an offer of acceptance from UofT because they’d already heard about the culture of abuse“Since I began at U of T and for years before, a colleague consistently harassed nearly every woman in the theory department with varying degrees of threat/severity over the course of several years. Although individual profs were supportive and tried to help us, he was reported to the senior administration over and over and still nothing changed, and we were left to try to protect each other and figure out ways to deal with it on our own. I know I had it “easy” compared to others, but I was still scared to come into the building at times because I knew he would be there and I knew that if something happened I would have no protection — because if the administration wouldn’t help my friends, what chance did I have? It broke my heart to see the people I care about suffer, and to know that this person likely targeted undergraduates too, who are even more vulnerable, and to know that there was nothing that we could do because the faculty refused to protect its students.” (Emma Soldaat, Third Year, PhD Theory)Messages of support and solidarity come from numerous current and former faculty members, including Midori Koga, Monica Whicher, James Parker, and Krisztina Szabo. The letter was initiated by Faculty of Music Undergraduate Association President Ines Wong, Fourth Year, Comprehensive, and follows months of similar, and largely anonymous, claims on social media.In a post published publicly on Facebook in late April 2021, a 19-year-old singer described her experience as a performer in a masterclass at Wilfrid Laurier University led by University of Toronto Faculty of Music professor Daniel Taylor. In the post that has since been removed from public access after we published this story, the singer alleges Taylor “touched [her] inappropriately and non-consensually, and whispered sexually implicit things in [her] ear while [she] was singing”. She wrote the experience left her feeling “isolated, embarrassed, violated, and above all, extremely angry”.Allegations of racism ignoredBy way of a separate Instagram post, BIPOC women from the UofT Jazz faculty point to their own experiences with racism.“After a year of work, we feel compelled to make a joint statement with #thisisartschool about our time as the only POC women faculty members at UofT Jazz and our Anti-Racism work with UofT’s Faculty of Music.“It is not an understatement to say that we have both experienced psychological abuse and discrimination from UofT Jazz and the FoM. We are choosing to break this toxic cycle of abuse.“We are hurt that our names are posted on the UofT Jazz Anti-Racism, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion document on the UfoT Jazz website to exemplify change and progress when we have experienced:“TRAUMA, EXHAUSTION, BULLYING, GASLIGHTING, ISOLATION, FEAR, AND INTIMIDATION”The multi-slide post details several specific allegations, such as being excluded from an Anti-Racism and Equity committee meeting. As in the case of sexual abuse, the letter writers say the institution failed to act on repeated allegations, or replied with bureaucratic responses that went nowhere.“Encouraging us to voice our concerns to faculty members who are unwilling to listen is not an action item. Referring us through administrative pathways that were created to suppress us is not an action item.”What’s next?As the first letter notes, the issues in discussion are pervasive throughout the music industry, and as they point out, “Silence is complicity”.“The culture of misogyny and harassment at the Faculty of Music has been allowed to continue for too long. “Small issues” are seen as poor collegiality and “large issues” are buried under University red-tape. Women of all ages are not safe. This needs to stop.” (Elizabeth McDonald, Alumni & Faculty, Voice Performance)Among the recommendations:Prioritize and enhance student safety with concrete commitments and actions, including open communications between students, Faculty, and AdminA systemic review performed by an external organization to pinpoint the specific issues that result in maintaining an abusive culture, as well as the ways in which power is abusedMandatory consent training for Faculty, staff, and studentsBeefing up the role of the in-house Equity, Diversity and Inclusion OfficerDespite its content, the letter initiated by the Faculty of Music Undergraduate Association ends on a hopeful note.“While we recognize that the Faculty of Music is part of a larger problem that affects the global community, we also recognize the institution’s ability to instigate positive change. As the leading music program in Canada — and as an institution set within the most diverse city in Canada — the University of Toronto Faculty of Music has the potential to become a world leader in breaking through the systemic inequalities which plague the music industry. We as students choose to stand against oppression and inequality; we hope that by taking action, the Faculty of Music will stand with us as a driving force for positive change.”[LAST UPDATED: June 19, 2021. The article was edited to include quotes from a former Wilfred Laurier University student who alleges they were sexually assaulted and harassed by a University of Toronto Faculty of Music professor in a publicly enabled Facebook post published April 30, 2021. The original social media post has since been removed, and in lieu of a link, we have amended the article to provide quotes from the original post. The quote also included a typo which has been corrected. ]#LUDWIGVANGet the daily arts news straight to your inbox.Sign up for the Ludwig van Daily — classical music and opera in five minutes or less HERE. Anya Wassenberg is a Senior Writer and Digital Content Editor at Ludwig Van. She is an experienced freelance writer, blogger and writing instructor with OntarioLearn.Latest posts by Anya Wassenberg (see all) Anya Wassenberg is a Senior Writer and Digital Content Editor at Ludwig Van. She is an experienced freelance writer, blogger and writing instructor with OntarioLearn.Latest posts by Anya Wassenberg (see all)

CRITIC’S PICKS | Classical And Opera Streams You Absolutely Need To See This Week: June 14 – 20

Classical music and opera events streaming on the web for the week of June 14 – 20.Critic’s Picks (June 14 – 20)“We live in an extraordinary Age” — Carl Sagan. It is now summer 2021, and with the decline in COVID cases in Europe and North America, the re-opening of concert and opera venues for the summer and next season is gathering steam. According to Opera Wire, recent announcements have come from Bayerische Staatsoper, Opéra de Metz Métropole, Teatro de la Zarzuela, Opéra de Lille, Staatsoper Berlin, Teatro San Carlo di Napoli, Opéra de Monte-Carlo, Göteborg Opera, Stadttheater Klagenfurt, Philharmonie Essen, Hungarian State Opera, Opera de Massy, and others. Audiences can expect various COVID precautions, possibly including proof of vaccination.The Salzburg Whitsun Festival in Austria re-opened with a blockbuster Tosca starring Anna Netrebko and Jonas Kaufmann, replacing the originally announced Anja Harteros and Bryn Terfel. An interesting twist is that it also featured the great Cecilia Bartoli — no, not as Tosca, but as the Shepherd Boy! She made her debut in this cameo role at the age of 10. These performances feature personalized ticketing to facilitate contact tracing, a maximum of 50% capacity, proof of vaccination, and use of face masks. Glyndebourne Festival 2021 started with an opening weekend of Kát’a Kabanová and Il turco in Italia on stage, and The Cunning Little Vixen online. It continues to August 29, with four operas and a concert series. The Czech Philharmonic performed a concert with a live audience of 350 on May 10 in Prague, conducted by Semyon Bychkov. Austria’s Salzburg Easter Festival now takes place on November 1. The Prague Summer Nights Young Artists Music Festival is going ahead for an in-person festival (July 5-Aug 2).On this side of the Atlantic, the Santa Fe Opera will take place July 10 to August 23, with in house, socially distanced audience, plus nightly simulcast in its lower parking lot. The Chicago Lyric Opera will present a film of Pagliacci in August starring Russell Thomas and Ailyn Perez. Tanglewood and Boston Symphony Orchestra’s summer festivals will happen, in the case of BSO at 50% capacity. LA Opera returned to live, in-person performances with a June 6 performance of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex, at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. James Conlon conducted, with Russell Thomas, J’Nai Bridges, and John Relyea. LA Philharmonic reopens the Hollywood Bowl in July, and the Cleveland Orchestra returns to the Blossom Festival on July 11. New York’s Teatro Nuovo has announced that it will put on Rossini’s The Barber of Seville on July 27 and 28 on the summer stage at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park.In Canada, the Elora Festival (Aug. 5 – 28) will be an online festival. Sinfonia Toronto’s 2021-22 season, “A Joyous Reunion,” will have a hybrid format, combining in-person and virtual concerts. Toronto’s Luminato Festival, normally in June, will take place in October. The TSO has yet to announce next season, but it’s offering a pre-taped stream of “Sarah Jeffrey Plays Mozart” available June 22–29. Toronto Summer Music (July 15 – August 1) will be online, with a mix of chamber music, art song, and dance, all free of charge. Wellington Water Week, a music festival in Wellington, Prince Edward County is now rebranded as the BIGLAKE Festival, under the co-artistic directorship of conductor Johannes Debus and violinist Elissa Lee. It will take place August 20-27. The Canadian Opera Company made an announcement on June 7, with very little details except that the fall season is likely virtual and completely free. It promises more information on the rest of the season in August.On the streaming front, this is Week 66 of the Met Opera’s free nightly streaming, an astounding feat and only possible from opera companies with enormous archives like the Met. The theme this week is appropriately “Happy Father’s Day,” featuring operas with dads running the gamut from wonderful to dreadful. Top stars include Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Kiri Te Kanawa, Renata Scotto, Natalie Dessay, and many more. Met streams start at 7:30 p.m. ET and remain available for 23 hours. There seems to be a certain livestream fatigue these days compared to just a few short months ago, with fewer and fewer content on offer. Totally understandable given we have been in this pandemic now for a year and a half. With COVID numbers declining, there’s hope that we’ll soon be back to the concert halls and opera houses for the joy of music.Monday 14Met Opera | Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra. Starring Kiri Te Kanawa, Plácido Domingo, Vladimir Chernov, and Robert Lloyd, conducted by James Levine. Production by Giancarlo Del Monaco. From January 26, 1995. | DetailsTuesday 15Met Opera | Wagner’s Die Walküre. Starring Christine Goerke, Eva-Maria Westbroek, Jamie Barton, Stuart Skelton, Greer Grimsley, and Günther Groissböck, conducted by Philippe Jordan. Production by Robert Lepage. From March 30, 2019. | DetailsWednesday 16Collingwood Summer Music Festival | Summer Solstice Series — 7 p.m. ET. First of four livestream events, starting with a fundraiser for the Actors’ Fund of Canada with R.H. Thomson*, followed by Schubert Piano Recital (June 19 3 p.m.), In The Footsteps of Chopin with Dr. Alan Walker* (June 23 7 p.m.), and Chopin Piano Recital (June 26 3 p.m.). Note the two marked (*) are not available on demand. The two piano recitals are played by Festival AD Daniel Vnukowski. | DetailsMet Opera | Verdi’s La Traviata. Starring Natalie Dessay, Matthew Polenzani, and Dmitri Hvorostovsky, conducted by Fabio Luisi. Production by Willy Decker. From April 14, 2012. | DetailsThursday 17Met Opera | Mozart’s Idomeneo. Starring Elza van den Heever, Nadine Sierra, Alice Coote, Matthew Polenzani, and Alan Opie, conducted by James Levine. Production by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle. From March 25, 2017. | DetailsFriday 18Met Opera | Verdi’s Rigoletto. Starring Christiane Eda-Pierre, Isola Jones, Luciano Pavarotti, Louis Quilico, and Ara Berberian, conducted by James Levine. Production by John Dexter. From December 15, 1981. | DetailsSaturday 19Met Opera | Verdi’s Don Carlo. Starring Marina Poplavskaya, Anna Smirnova, Roberto Alagna, Simon Keenlyside, Ferruccio Furlanetto, and Eric Halfvarson, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Production by Nicholas Hytner. From December 11, 2010. | DetailsSunday 20Met Opera | Verdi’s Luisa Miller. Starring Renata Scotto, Plácido Domingo, Sherrill Milnes, Bonaldo Giaiotti, and James Morris, conducted by James Levine. Production by Nathaniel Merrill. From January 20, 1979. | DetailsVideo-on-demand performances:1) Canadian Opera Company | Key Change Episode 16: Jack Diamond. The last of this season’s Key Change, Robyn and Julie speak with three people about the Four Seasons Centre: Jack Diamond, lead architect of the FSC, Janice Oliver, who oversaw its design and construction, and soprano Sondra Radvanovsky, a regular on the FSC stage. | Details2) Glyndebourne | Barber of Seville. Recorded in 2016 Festival, Enrique Mazzola conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Glyndebourne Chorus and a fine cast: Danielle de Niese (Rosina), Alessandro Corbelli (Dr Bartolo), Taylor Stayton (Count Almaviva), Björn Bürger (Figaro). Available until Sunday June 27.[embedded content]3) Screaming Divas with Sondra and Keri | Lise Davidsen. Few sopranos in recent memory have generated more excitement in the opera world than Norwegian Lise Davidsen, called the “New Kirsten Flagstad” by fans and media alike. She chats with Sondra Radvanovsky and Keri Alkema.[embedded content]4) Domoney Artists | OperaBreaks: Singing in the Shadows. This series of four short opera clips features singers on the roster of Domoney Artists, to be released in June and July: June 12 – “Dite alla giovine” La Traviata Natalya Gennadi, soprano & Dion Mazerolle, baritone; June 26 – “Green Finch and Linnet Bird”, Sweeney Todd – Caitlin Wood, soprano; July 10 – “Crudel! perché finora”, Le Nozze di Figaro – Caitlin Wood, soprano & Clarence Frazer, baritone; and July 26 – “Vilja” The Merry Widow – Natalya Gennadi, soprano. François Racine directs. | Details5) Tafelmusik | Dynamic Duos. This video explores duets featuring various instrument pairings, on music written without the usual continuo accompaniment: works by Vivaldi, Couperin, Telemann, Rolla, Saggione, Besozzi, and Leclair. Tickets: $25/$30 and access from June 17, 8 p.m. for one week of extended viewing. | Details#LUDWIGVANGet the daily arts news straight to your inbox.Sign up for the Ludwig van Daily — classical music and opera in five minutes or less HERE. Joseph So is Professor Emeritus at Trent University and Associate Editor of Opera Canada.He is also a long-time contributor to La Scena Musicale and Opera (London, UK). His interest in music journalism focuses on voice, opera as well as symphonic and piano repertoires. He appears regularly as a panel member of the Big COC Podcast.He has co-edited a book, Opera in a Multicultural World: Coloniality, Culture, Performance, published by Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group).Latest posts by Joseph So (see all) Joseph So is Professor Emeritus at Trent University and Associate Editor of Opera Canada.He is also a long-time contributor to La Scena Musicale and Opera (London, UK). His interest in music journalism focuses on voice, opera as well as symphonic and piano repertoires. He appears regularly as a panel member of the Big COC Podcast.He has co-edited a book, Opera in a Multicultural World: Coloniality, Culture, Performance, published by Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group).Latest posts by Joseph So (see all)